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CNN Today

Latest Study Confirms Fast Food Is Unhealthy

Aired February 26, 2001 - 4:18 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now on to other news about food and your health.

It is fast, it tastes good -- at least some people think it does -- and people around the world are hooked on it: it is fast food.

"Consumer Reports" magazine is the latest to conduct a study of what has become a national staple, comparing fat content and taste in some of the most popular offerings out there.

Joining us by telephone now from Yonkers, New York, is David Heim. He's managing editor of "Consumer Reports."

David, thanks for being with us.

You know, in my mind, and I think in the minds of a lot of people, if it's fast food and it tastes good then it must be bad for you. And conversely, if it tastes bad then it's probably not the thing you want to get at the fast-food place.

And yet your study seems to suggest, at least in a couple areas, those fish sandwiches and chicken caesars in particular -- the inverse is sort of true. I guess everything is not favorable.

DAVID HEIM, "CONSUMER REPORTS": Well, I wouldn't paint quite such a bleak picture. It is possible to eat fast food in moderation and still eat reasonably healthfully. You just have to kind of think about what you're doing and not just blindly order the -- the Double Whopper with cheese, or the -- you know, the Big Mac with a supersize fries.

CHEN: Don't go for broke on all of that.

Well, let's talk a little bit about some of the specific findings of your study. On the fish sandwiches in particular, it's pretty much a two thumbs down, bad on taste and bad on health.

HEIM: Yeah. The fish sandwiches, you might think, would be healthful. I mean, after all, people have been talking about the health benefits of fish for a very long time.

CHEN: Sure.

HEIM: But it sort of stops at drive-in window. Our expert found that Mcdonald's fillet of fish, for example, didn't have much fish flavor. Burger King had a -- kind of an old fish flavor in some places, and so on. They are not particularly low in fat, they are not particularly low in calories, and they can often come with a lot of salt...

CHEN: In terms of...

HEIM: ... so if you're watching sodium...

CHEN: In terms of calories in particular, I think I read that it could take up about half of the calories that most adults are allotted per day.

HEIM: Well, something like McDonald's filet of fish is 470 calories, which is not out of line for what you'd want to eat for a light lunch. But there are alternatives, even at McDonald's, that would be lower in calories and probably a little more healthful.

CHEN: Well, let's talk about the thing that always gets me. I mean, whatever you get at the fast-food place, most people, whichever fast-food place it is -- want to get the fries. Is there such a thing as more healthful French fry or a less healthful French fry?

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